As the weather begins to warm up, the Prairie Fire women’s tennis team starts to heat up too as they prepare for their spring season. Technically, this is not their main season, but they still give it their all on the tennis courts for Knox.
Senior Lauren Sparks enjoys spring tennis season as it is a way to “get active again and getting to get back out on the courts once it warms up.” It also serves as a way to “get out in the afternoon and be able to breath fresh air.”
Freshman Bhumika Gupta looks forward to her first spring season as tennis is a big part of her life.
“I have been playing tennis since I was 10, so for me it is a bonus to play tennis here because I have always loved tennis. It also helps keep me fit and scheduled and keeps me disciplined,” Gupta said.
Senior Miranda Corbett speaks highly of the benefits spring season holds for the team.
“The spring is a long time to work on improving skills and maintain the progress we’ve made in the fall,” she said.
Corbett also points out that it is a good time to change things up if wanted.
“It’s a good time to work on a couple different things that during the main season you might not want to change about the way you play,” Corbett said.
This ability to mix up the game is probably due to the fact that spring season is formatted very differently than the fall.
“In the fall, mostly our focus is on the conference tournament that comes at the end of the season and in the spring we don’t have that. It is a time that we are playing different schools that we don’t play in the fall, so we get new experiences, and because it’s not building up to one tournament, you can focus more on individual improvement,” Corbett said.
Gupta looks forward to the rise in temperature so the team can get back on the outside courts.
“The bad thing is that we have to play indoors [during the winter],” she said.
Gupta also acknowledges the good side of spring season being “that we have two seasons, so we get to play more tennis … it is not our main season so we don’t have as much pressure on matches, and it’s more just playing for fun,” Gupta said.
The spring season means less stress for Gupta, as she is not preparing for conference play, but that being said, the women don’t take this season lightly. As Sparks pointed out, even new additions to their fitness routine reflect their passion for the sport and their drive to excel.
“We have been doing weight training which is new. We changed things up a lot this fall and are still following that. We are doing more fitness this spring than we have done in the past. We are getting up and practicing every day. The motivation level is higher,” Sparks said.
Sparks also clarified that the spring regimen differs from regular season.
“We start with pre-season where we are playing like four hours of tennis a day, fall season is very intense.”
Sparks acknowledges the importance of this season in maintaining tennis skills.
All of these three players have different reasons to look forward to the spring tennis season. Corbett and Sparks say that as it is their last spring tennis season, they are looking forward to “going out with a bang” and “getting the last matches in and finishing strong.”
In contrast, Gupta looks forward to seeing the competition for this season.
“Since this is my first spring season, I have never played these teams before and some of them are new, even previous players haven’t played them, so I’m really excited to play these teams,” Gupta said.
Corbett speaks fondly of the team as her “first community on campus and how we act like a family is probably my favorite thing. The tennis team acts like their own family.”
This close-knit community of athletes also influenced Sparks in a big way, as she claims that “I have made my best friends on this campus in tennis.”
Playing tennis in both the fall and spring has also helped Sparks improve herself in ways other than athletics.
“[It is good to have] a way to be motivated and grow other than just academically. I feel like I learned a lot of lessons from tennis. Everybody says ‘point by point’ when you’re playing tennis. It means you have to take everything one step at a time and I feel like that has been really helpful for me in college outside of tennis,” Sparks said.
One thing is for sure, all of the spring season tennis players are ready to fight to win their matches and do as well as possible for themselves and Knox.